Researchers at the University of Buffalo, US, have developed a powerful air sterilization technology that can kill almost every biological agent, which could help protect soldiers from biological attacks in future.
The prototype, known as BioBlower, which has been produced by Buffalo BioBlower Technologies LLC, has destroyed biological agents to a level of better than one part per million in an independent evaluation conducted over a period of four weeks.
These biological agents included airborne spores, viruses and bacteria.
The BioBlower destroys airborne pathogens by rapidly heating the contaminated air under pressure and mechanically compressing it as it is being blown rapidly through the mechanical rotary pump. The system then blows the disinfected air back into the enclosed environment whether it is a tank, plane, ship, tent or building.
According to James F. Garvey, professor in the Department of Chemistry in the UB (University at Buffalo) College of Arts and Sciences, the positive outcomes in the independent evaluation indicate that BioBlower could, in the near future, be protecting soldiers from biological attack.
"This independent third-party validation of our technology was so exceptionally compelling that the military has now directed us to retrofit one of their existing platforms with a BioBlower as a technology demonstration," said Garvey.
The military system now being retrofitted with BioBlower is used to inflate the hospital units and temporary shelters erected in the battlefield for command headquarters.
"We're removing their current fan and replacing it with our electrical air pump, the BioBlower, which also will instantly kill any airborne biological agents on contact," said Garvey.
Conventional technologies involve the use of HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filters, which simply trap large airborne spores. These passive filters have to be regularly replaced and properly discarded, posing a further potential hazard to personnel. In addition, they provide little or no protection against airborne viruses.
"Right now, it's up to soldiers in the field to swap out these filters and replace them, which involves considerable logistic demands, such as labor and expense," said Garvey.
In contrast, the BioBlower immediately kills any and all airborne biological pathogens and only electricity is needed to power the rotary air pump, which drives the blower.
"With the BioBlower, there's nothing to replace and no maintenance," said Garvey.
"BioBlower units are inherently scalable and can be installed as a permanent part of a building's air-handling (HVAC) system, including on military bases," he added.
The technology also has potential applications in health-care and hospital settings to ensure a sterile environment.